School district business is our expertise. With more than 30 attorneys dedicated to advising public agencies on the complex array of issues encountered while conducting their operations, Lozano Smith is prepared to share our knowledge gained in preparing thousands of contracts and helping school districts build hundreds of facilities. The business of schools is vast - from daily vendor contracts, to budgeting and revenue generation, our attorneys routinely advise on and advocate for school districts. Equally, Lozano Smith provides counsel and support on all aspects of real property and facilities issues. When a novel issue presents itself, we work closely with our clients to develop creative, efficient and effective solutions. And, if a contract is challenged or a construction project goes awry, our litigation team has a proven track record of success.

Lozano Smith Facilities and Business Practice Group specializes in:


  • Budgeting Issues, Funding Disputes & Audit Appeals
  • Procurement of Supplies and Services
  • Contract Development and Review
  • Energy Issues
  • Public Finance including Bond Counsel Services
  • Technology Procurement and Contracting


  • Bidding, Bid Challenges and Alternative Project Delivery
  • Selecting and Contracting with Construction Professionals
  • Construction Contract Development and Administration
  • Prevailing Wage and Project Labor Agreements
  • Construction Advice & Litigation
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
  • Developer Fees and School Facilities Mitigation
  • Prop. 39 Procurement and Contracting
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • State Funding and the School Facilities Program
  • Joint Facilities Use

Real Property

  • Land Acquisition - Purchase and Exchange
  • Due Diligence Issues including CDE Approval and Resolution of Title Exceptions
  • Eminent Domain
  • Land Use and Zoning Issues
  • Leases, Easements and Other Property Interests
  • Charter School Facilities and Prop. 39 Offers
  • Surplus Property Disposition
Sacramento, San Diego
Fabiola M. Rivera Senior Counsel
James  Sanchez Senior Counsel
Fresno, Monterey
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield
Travis E. Cochran Senior Counsel
Monterey, Sacramento
Los Angeles, San Diego

New Laws Streamline Process for Sale or Lease of School District Surplus Property and Allow for Flexible Use of Sale Proceeds

By:Harold Freiman, Peter Sumulong -

September 2020Number 68With two separate recently passed laws, the California Legislature has altered the procedures surrounding school district disposition of surplus property. Senate Bill 98 (SB 98), an education omnibus budget trailer bill signed into law on June 29, 2020, allows for more flexible use of the proceeds of a sale of surplus property. Senate Bill 820 (SB 820), an education finance bill signed into law on September 18, 2020, makes significant changes to requirements related to ...

Appellate Court Rules That a Challenge to a Lease-Leaseback Contract Is Moot due to Completion of the Project

By:Arne Sandberg, Alyse Pacheco Nichols -

September 2020Number 69In a recent ruling, a California Appellate Court determined that a taxpayer’s reverse validation action alleging conflicts of interest in lease-leaseback agreements became moot upon completion of the project. (James D. McGee v. Torrance USD (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 814.) However, this decision may lead to more immediate and aggressive litigation for public agencies defending reverse validation actions in the future.BackgroundIn 2013, taxpayer James D. McGee initiated...

Power to the People: California Court of Appeal Rules that Voter Tax Initiatives Are Not Subject to Super-Majority Vote

By:Daniel Maruccia, Shawn Gleizer -

September 2020Number 67In City & County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 703, California's First District Court of Appeal held that special taxes proposed by voter initiative require only a simple majority vote to pass, notwithstanding the provisions of Proposition 13 and Proposition 218, which would otherwise require a two-thirds approval of the voting electorate.BackgroundIn San Francisco's 2018 general election, 61% of vote...

Supreme Court Disallows Exclusion of Religious Schools from State Scholarship Program

By:Devon Lincoln, Bradley Sena -

August 2020Number 63On June 30, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held that Montana's exclusion of religious schools from a state scholarship program discriminated against religious schools and the families whose children attend or hope to attend them, and violated the Free Exercise Clause of the United States Constitution. (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020) 591 U.S. __ (Espinoza.) In doing so, the Supreme Court builds on its 2017 decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Colu...

Public Agencies Required to Maintain Emails Related to CEQA Determinations

By:David Wolfe, Nicholas Clair -

August 2020Number 65A recent court ruling reaffirms the expansiveness of administrative records required to be retained under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The decision in Golden Door Properties v. Superior Court of San Diego County, (June 30, 2020, D076605, D076924, D076993) __ Cal.App.5th __ , held that public agencies must retain all writings that are statutorily required to be included in the record of a CEQA challenge, including emails that would otherwise be subject t...

Surplus School District Property and the Budget Crisis: New and Proposed Legal Requirements and Opportunities

By:Harold Freiman, Kelly Rem -

June 2020Number 47The COVID-19 pandemic has created a looming fiscal crisis across California. As local agencies prepare to adopt their fiscal year 2020-21 budgets, some are eyeing the option of selling or leasing surplus property in order to generate funds to ease potential shortfalls. There is a great deal happening in Sacramento currently that may impact that option for better or worse.School districts must follow specific procedures prior to selling or leasing real property. These procedu...

Bond Election Countdown: Many Things Have Changed, but Election Deadlines Remain the Same

By:Jennifer Bradlee, Derek Ulmer -

May 2020 Number 43 In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Governor has issued a series of executive orders, each addressing impacts of the pandemic. While striving to make sense of and comply with these orders and the countless local, state, and national public health orders and recommendations, it is easy for public agencies to lose sight of looming deadlines, especially when so many administrative timelines have been suspended or extended. Despite the pandemic-and maybe even as...

Representative Cases

Lozano Smith was part of the team representing Los Angeles Unified School District in Williams v. State of California, a massive statewide class action involving alleged conditions in public schools including alleged inequalities in school facilities, instructional materials and teachers, particularly at underperforming schools that were already the subject of various state and federal categorical programs.
Clovis Unified School District v. Chiang (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 794. Assisted eleven school districts with invalidating audits of several state mandated cost reimbursement claims worth more than $30 million, based upon the use of invalid, underground auditing documentation rule by the State Controller’s Office. The firm was later able to receive an award of $240,000 from the superior court for fees and costs incurred in the litigation efforts, largely offsetting the school districts’ legal costs in the case.
Oak Grove Elementary School District v. George W. Putris, as Tax Collector for the County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 114CV261473. Represented the District in a complex matter related to a parcel tax authorized by the District's Board and approved by voters in 1991. The District returned to the voters every four years to re-obtain approval to increase the appropriations limit to spend tax revenues, but uncertainty loomed in 2014 regarding whether the District still had authority to collect taxes in 2014 after not needing to increase the annual appropriations limit that same year. The County Tax Collector was unclear whether it still had the authority to collect the taxes, therefore leading to Lozano Smith filing a lawsuit on behalf of the District seeking a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the County Tax Collector to collect parcel taxes. The lawsuit resulted in a stipulated judgment issuing a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the Tax Collector to collect the parcel tax.
Morgan Hill Unified School District v. Minter & Fahy Construction Company, Inc. et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. CV772368 (2002-2003). As part of a three week jury trial, successfully represented the school district against contractor and pipe manufacturer arising from underground fuel storage tank that leaked, and obtained judgment in excess of $2 million including interest and attorney’s fees. *Case handled by a current Lozano Smith attorney prior to their employment at Lozano Smith.
Modtech Holdings v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District. On two separate elementary school projects totaling $4 million, the District withheld substantial sums to cover damages caused the contractor. One project under the control of the contractor had a fire, with the contractor refusing to compensate the District. The other project suffered construction deficiencies in the stucco and roof. The contractor sued for improper withholding and the District cross-complained for additional damages, resulting in a $1 million dispute. After discovery and expert investigation revealed additional claims for the District, the case resolved very favorably for the District a few months short of trial.
R. Baker, Inc. v. Coast Unified School District. A school district was subject to multi-million dollar design, delay and defect claims related to construction of a new elementary school located in the Coastal Zone. The project also suffered from an inadequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), thus causing the school district to be fined in excess of $300,000. The litigation settled favorably for the District at mediation.
Mountain Cascade v. Santa Clara Valley Water District. The District entered a contract with the plaintiff to install a recycled water pipeline. As part of the original plans and specifications, the contract also called for the additional installation of fiber optic conduits. However, after award the District deleted the fiber optic work from the project since the bid on that line item was excessive. The District then added back a small portion of the fiber optic work that was within the budget. The contractor sued the District for lost profits based on the deleted work. Our attorney won summary judgment for the District based on the broad right to add and delete work, and successfully defended the decision on appeal.
Pajaro Valley USD v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., et al. Due to a combination of construction and architectural roof design defects, a new district school was infected with mold throughout its buildings. Lozano Smith attorneys successfully represented the school district in recovering in excess of $3 million for remedial efforts and new construction from litigation prosecuted against the general contractor, architect, and insurer on the district insurance risk policy.
Teichert Construction v. City of Stockton, et al. During a $15 million dual grade separation project, the contractor and one of its subcontractors submitted claims of more than $3 million based on delay. Despite many issues of delay caused by utilities and railroad companies, the case settled favorably at pre-discovery mediation for under $1 million despite a significant number of delay days for which the City had to take responsibility.
Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262. Lozano Smith successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs.